New Collection: Lewis Family Papers, #5499

We are pleased to announce that the newly acquired Lewis Family Papers (SHC #5499) collection is open and available for research. For more about this collection, please view the finding aid. Here’s a brief summary…

The Lewis family arrived in Raleigh, N.C., in 1923, when John D. Lewis Sr. took a job as a district manager for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company of Durham, N.C. He and his wife, Luella Alice Cox Lewis, and their two children, J.D. Lewis (John D. Lewis Jr.) (1919-2007) and Vera Lewis Embree (1921-2004), lived in southeast Raleigh and were members of First Baptist Church. J.D. Lewis was a Morehouse College graduate, one of the first African American members of the United States Marine Corps, and the first African American radio and television personality, corporate director of personnel, and director of minority affairs for WRAL of the Capitol Broadcasting Company (CBC). J.D. Lewis also worked as the special markets representative for the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company; as the project director of GROW, Incorporated, a federally funded program for high school dropouts; and as the coordinator of manpower planning for the state of North Carolina. Lewis was active in many civic and community organizations as well. Vera Lewis Embree (1921-2004) graduated from the Palmer Institute for Young Women and Hampton Institute. She built a successful and celebrated career as a choreographer and professor of dance at the University of Michigan. The collection consists of papers, photographs, and audiovisual materials that chiefly relate to J.D. Lewis’s working life and the civic and community organizations he supported. Lewis’s career is documented by materials from Capitol Broadcasting Company, including editorials he wrote and produced; GROW, Incorporated; Manpower; Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company; National Association of Market Developers; and the National Business League. Lewis’s civic leadership is evident in records of the Raleigh Community Relations Committee, which worked to integrate Raleigh public schools; political campaigns; and the Team of Progress, a group interested in political leadership at the city and county levels of government. Community organizations represented in the collection include the Garner Road YMCA; Alpha Kappa Alpha Debutante Ball; the Eastside Neighborhood Task Force; the Citizens Committee on Schools; Omega Psi Phi; and Meadowbrook Country Club, which was founded in 1959 by a small group of African American community leaders. Other materials document the Method Post Office dedication in 1965; the Montford Point Marine Association; and a youth charrette, possibly on integration of Durham schools. There are also clippings and printed materials on such topics as black power, African American history, Morehouse College, and Shaw University. There are several issues ofPerfect Home, a home design and decorating magazine published by John W. Winters, a real estate broker, home builder, city councilman, state senator, and civic leader. Family materials are mainly biographical and include newspaper clippings, funeral programs, school materials, awards and certificates, and photographs. There are a few family letters, including one from 1967 with a first-hand account of rioting on Twelfth Street in Detroit and a copy of a 10 January 1967 letter in which the Lewis family opposed the selection of Mark Twain’s Mississippi Melody for student performance on the grounds that it perpetuated stereotyped images of African Americans. Photographs include portraits and snapshots of four generations of the Lewis and related Cox families, documenting family life from the 1910s through the 2000s. There are non-family group portraits of Omega Psi Phi members of Durham, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company employees on its 21st anniversary, and of unidentified groups at other civic and community events. There is one folder of J.D. Lewis photographs that depict him in various work contexts. Also included is a portrait of a young Clarence Lightner, who owned a funeral home business and later served as the first African American mayor of Raleigh. Audiovisual materials chiefly relate to J.D. Lewis’s work at Capitol Broadcasting Company/WRAL and his interest in African American community and history. Included are audiotapes of his editorials for WRAL; videotape ofHarambee, a public affairs program about the concerns of the general public and especially African Americans; audiotape of musical performances, possibly for Teen-Age Frolic, a teenage dance and variety show; audiotape of Adventures in Negro History, an event sponsored by Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Raleigh; and film of unidentified wedding and seashore scenes. Also included are several published educational film strips on African American history with accompanying audio.

Please click here to view the finding aid.

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New Collection: Washington A. Lemons Papers (#5508-z)

Washington A. Lemons of Greene County, Tenn., was born in 1833. He served in the Union Army’s Company C, 2nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 6 October 1863-16 August 1865, in locations throughout western North Carolina, including Deep Gap, Boone, and Asheville. The collection contains two letters, 11 April 1865 and 1 May 1865, from Washington A. Lemons to his wife, Harriet Lemons, of Greeneville, Tenn., and two related documents. The April letter recounts capturing Confederate soldiers and supplies in Jefferson, N.C., and acquiring a secession flag in Boone. The May letter refers to the Shelton Laurel massacre of January 1863, in which the Confederate 64th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, led by James A. Keith, killed 13 alleged Union sympathizers in Madison County, N.C. The letter also describes the capture of a perpetrator of the massacre, insinuating that the soldier was punished severely. Also included are a transcription of the May letter and a list of North Carolina Union regiments that highlights Lemons’s regiment and company.

Click here to view the finding aid for this collection…

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New Collection: James B. Caldwell Diary (#5365-z)

James B. Caldwell of Alabama was 19 years old when he entered the Civil War in the 13th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. He served in the regiment in Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The collection contains the diary James B. Caldwell kept during his service with the 13th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, 23 May 1861-13 August 1962. The diary chiefly describes daily activities of the regiment as it travelled throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas, and camp life while waiting for active service, including card-playing and nightly dances. Included is a description of the Battle of Belmont, 7 November 1861, in Columbus, Ky.; sketched maps of camps and lists of Caldwell’s personal expenses; and declarations of love and verses dedicated to Caldwell’s fiance Maggie, including a passage written on 7 April 1962 that Caldwell recited when he proposed to her while on furlough. Most diary entries are undated and do not appear in chronological order. Also included are a typed transcript of the diary and other materials providing historical and geographical context for the diary.

Click here to view the finding aid…

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Now accepting applications for 2012 Visiting Scholars Grant Program

The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is accepting applications for five visiting scholar awards in fall 2012:


Joel Williamson Visiting Scholar Grant ($1200 award)
For projects examining African Americans or race relations in the American South

Guion Griffis Johnson Visiting Scholar Grant ($1000 award)
For projects examining women in the American South

John Eugene and Barbara Hilton Cay Visiting Scholar Grant ($1000 award)
For projects examining the literary culture or traditions of the American South

J. Carlyle Sitterson Visiting Scholar Grant ($1000 award)
For projects examining the antebellum period in the American South

Parker-Dooley Visiting Scholar Grant ($1000 award)
For projects examining North Carolina’s history

Please visit our website to learn more about eligibility and application requirements…

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Four activists to be honored in Chapel Hill, SHC preserves documentation of their legacy

This Sunday, August 28, 2011, four names will be added to a plaque at Chapel Hill’s “Peace and Justice Plaza.” Yonni Chapman, Rebecca Clark, Rev. Charles M. Jones and Dan Pollitt will all be honored posthumously for their contributions to civil rights, social justice and equality in the Chapel Hill community. The ceremony will begin at 3pm in front of the Historic Chapel Hill Post Office on Franklin Street, just across the street from UNC’s McCorkle Place. For the full story, see the article, “Four Honored for Activism,” from the Chapel Hill News.

The Southern Historical Collection is proud to preserve a large body of material that documents the lives and legacies of these four activists, including:

Charles Miles Jones Papers – The collection includes correspondence, church documents and publications, clippings, and other items reflecting Jones’s ministry and concern for civil rights. Materials generally focus on his public rather than personal life with a special emphasis on the 1952-1953 investigation of his Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church ministry. General correspondence includes letters from supporters (among them Frank Porter Graham) and detractors, commenting on the investigation, Jones’s sermons, and several well-publicized actions in support of social justice causes.

Oral history interview with Rebecca Clark (1 interview available online via DocSouth’s Oral Histories of the American South project) – In this interview, Rebecca Clark recalls living and working in segregated North Carolina. She finished her schooling in all-black schools, so the bulk of her experience with white people in a segregated context took place in the work world. There she experienced economic discrimination in a variety of forms, and despite her claims that many black people kept quiet in the face of racial discrimination at the time, she often agitated for, and won, better pay. Along with offering some information about school desegregation, this interview provides a look into the constricted economic lives of black Americans living under Jim Crow.

John K. Chapman Papers (available Fall 2011) – This collection documents Yonni Chapman’s social activism and academic achievements, and offers an account of nearly four decades of progressive racial, social, and economic justice struggles in the central North Carolina region. Organizational materials, including correspondence, notes, newsletters and reports, document the activities of the Communist Workers’ Party, the Federation for Progress, the Orange County Rainbow Coalition of Conscience, the New Democratic Movement, the Freedom Legacy Project, and the Campaign for Historical Accuracy and Truth, among other organizations on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, in Chapel Hill, N.C., Durham, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Greensboro, N.C. Workers’ rights and racial justice campaigns and commemorations, including those of the Greensboro Massacre and the campaign to end the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Bell Award on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, are documented in paper, audio, visual, and photographic formats.

Daniel H. Pollitt Papers (available Fall 2012) – This collection documents Dan Pollitt’s distinguished career as an attorney, professor in the University of North Carolina Law School, and civil rights activist in the American South. The collection documents Pollitt’s activities with a number of organizations, including: the National Labor Relations Board, the National Sharecroppers Fund, the NAACP, the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors, the Rural Advancement Fund, and other organizations. Material also covers Pollitt’s involvement with the Speaker Ban controversy at the University of North Carolina, his opposition to the death penalty in North Carolina, issues of congressional misconduct, and many other legal and ethical matters.

Oral history interviews with Daniel H. Pollitt (13 interviews, many of which are available online via DocSouth’s Oral Histories of the American South project)

Posted in Activism, African American, Civil Rights, Featured Collections, In the News, Labor, Race Relations, Southern Oral History Program, University of North Carolina | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Legacy finding aids update

The latest group of updated and encoded legacy finding aids has just been posted online. Some of the notable collections in this group are:

Mary Farrow Credle Papers, #1853

Mary Elizabeth Farrow Credle (1881-1946) was the daughter of Wilson T. Farrow (1837-1916) and Mary Elizabeth (Respess) Farrow (1846-1905). The collection contains chiefly business papers (deeds, accounts, receipts, contracts, letters), but also personal correspondence preserved by Mary Farrow Credle from preceding generations of the Credle family, Farrow family, and Respess family in Beaufort County and Hyde County, N.C. Members of the families were engaged in coastwise shipping, maintaining ships, buying and selling lands and slaves, farming and other businesses. Included are papers of Isaiah Respess, merchant and trader, who was imprisoned alternately by the Confederate and Federal authorities during the Civil War; the Reverend Joseph B. Hinton (1788-1872), antebellum state legislator, of Beaufort County and Raleigh, N.C.; Wilson T. Farrow (1837-1916) of Ocracoke Island and Washington, N.C.; and their kin.

Louis and Mildred Graves Papers, #4010

Louis Graves (1883-1965) was a writer, journalist, and founder of the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Weekly, and married his wife, Mildred Moses Graves (1892-1976), in 1921. The collection comprises personal and professional papers of Louis Graves. Family correspondence includes letters to Louis Graves’s mother, Julia Charlotte Hooper Graves (1856-1944); his sister, Mary Graves Rees (1886-1953); and his brothers, Ralph Graves (1878-1939) and Ernest Graves (1880-1953); as well as letters to and from Mildred Graves’s father, Edward Pearson Moses (1857-1948); her brother, Herbert Moses; her nephew, Edward Kidder Graham Junior (1911-1976); and her niece, Allen Claywell Irvine. Included in the professional correspondence are letters to and from writers; newspaper editors; publishers; academic figures, chiefly at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; North Carolina political figures; and readers of the Chapel Hill Weekly.

Cotten Family Papers, #3589

Cotten family members include Robert Randolph Cotten of Pitt County, N.C., his wife, Sallie (Southall) Cotten, (1846-1929), and their children and grandchildren. The collection includes family correspondence of Robert Randolph Cotten, of his wife, Sallie (Southall) Cotten, and of their children and grandchildren. Sallie (Southall) Cotten’s papers concern women’s rights, state and national women’s organizations, women’s war work, 1916-1918, the Virginia Dare Memorial Association, and her many other interests and activities, as well as family and social matters.

A complete list of all updated and encoded legacy finding aids can be found here.

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Legacy finding aids update

The latest group of updated and encoded legacy finding aids has just been posted online. Some of the notable collections in this group are:

Ella Noland MacKenzie Papers, #3667

Ella Noland MacKenzie of Glen Ora, near Leesburg, Loudon County, Virginia was the daughter of Lloyd and Elizabeth Noland. She married physician John Carrerre MacKenzie (died 1866) of Baltimore, Md. The collection contains the family and personal correspondence of Ella Noland MacKenzie. Included are letters from Ella while in school in Virginia and Baltimore, Md., 1844-1850; visiting her aunt, Sara (Hollingsworth) Gibson, wife of Dr. William Gibson (1877-1868), in Philadelphia, Pa., 1850-1851; the Nolands and other relatives in Virginia and from members of the MacKenzie family and friends in Baltimore, pertaining chiefly to plantation life, social conditions, and women’s activities, 1852-1860; scattered letters regarding difficulties experienced by the Nolands and MacKenzies in Virginia and Maryland during the Civil War, 1861-1865; letters written during Reconstruction including correspondence with relatives in Europe, 1865-1870; and scattered letters, 1870-1886. Incidents mentioned include the sale of slaves and property from an estate, 1849; a slave uprising near Glen Ora, 1856; descriptions of public sentiments toward the South in Philadelphia, 1861; the departure of one branch of the family for Europe in voluntary or involuntary exile, and the arrest of John Carrerre MacKenzie as a Confederate sympathizer, 1864.

Harriet Hardison Robson Papers, #4203

Harriett Hardison Robson (b. 1899) of Wadesboro, N.C., was married to C. J. Canaga, a United States Army officer, and from 1927-1931 they lived in Peking, China where he was assigned as a language officer and military attache. The collection consists primarily of letters from Robson to her mother written while she was living in Peking. The letters describe Peking, the military and political struggle between Nationalist and Communist forces for control of the Chinese government, Chinese customs, trips to historic sites around Peking and to northern provinces, and social activities among the foreign legations in Peking. Also included are a drawing of William Henry Donald, a few clippings, and a Christmas card. Additionally, there are 51 photographs taken in the northern provinces of China and the Hawaiian Islands.

D. H. Duryea Letters, #3595-z

D. H. Duryea was a solider in the 1st Minnesota Regiment and served with General William T. Sherman’s army during the march through Georgia and the Carolinas. The collection contains letters from D. H. Duryea to his wife at home while he was serving in the Civil War. The letters discuss troop movements, rations shortages, conditions in Decatur, Ala., and Savannah, Ga., cotton, and prisoners captured.

A complete list of all updated and encoded legacy finding aids can be found here.

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Legacy finding aids update

The latest group of updated and encoded legacy finding aids has just been posted online. Some of the notable collections in this group are:

Charles Lyon Chandler Papers, #3614

Charles Lyon Chandler (b. 1883) was a United States foreign service officer, Philadelphia banker, history professor, and author. The collection contains the papers of Chandler, consisting mainly of material related to his unpublished biography of Joel Robert Poinsett (1779-1851) of South Carolina, diplomat, United States representative, United States Secretary of War, and anti-nullificationist. Also included are letters and correspondence of Chandler while he worked abroad for the United States State Department in Europe, Asia, and South America, 1906-1913, and in Latin American again in the 1940s; speeches and articles; diaries, 1904-1911; thirty-nine pocket memorandum books; and three scrapbooks on Latin American topics, 1909-1919 and 1943-1944, especially concerned with commerce between the United States and Brazil during the 19th century.

Stephen Berry Culver Diary, #3992

Stephen Berry Culver (1841-1902) of Sandy Hill, N.Y., was a graduate of Union College, carpenter, teacher, bookkeeper, active member of the Methodist Church, mining and chemical engineer, and clerk in the Naval Office, New York, N.Y., 1884-1902. The collection contains the diaries of Culver, along with the related enclosures which include clippings, genealogical notes, writings and letters. The diaries, begun when Culver was a teenager, relate chiefly to his involvement with the Methodist Church; family illnesses and deaths; national news; and local social, cultural, and political affairs, primarily related to the Sandy Hill, Schenectady, Mt. Vernon, and New York City areas of New York.

J. Bryan Grimes Papers, #1765

J. Bryan (John Bryan) Grimes (1868-1923) of Pitt County, N.C., was a conservative leader of the Farmers’ Alliance, the Grange, and other agricultural organizations; managed the family farms in Pitt County and Beaufort County; and was North Carolina secretary of state, 1900-1923. The collection includes 20th century business, personal, and official correspondence of Grimes, with the bulk of the papers concerning his service as North Carolina secretary of state and various Democratic political campaigns.

William Oscar Spears Papers, #3964

William Oscar Spears (1885-1966) of Chattanooga, Tenn., was a United States naval officer who retired as a rear admiral. The collection contains the personal and family papers of Spears, the bulk consisting of detailed letters to his wife, Blanche Snodgrass Spears, concerning his missions to Brazil, 1919-1927, and Peru, 1930-1933; and his service visits to Panama, Cuba, and other South American countries. There are many references to social activities and local political events, including references to riots and political strife in Lima, Peru, 1930-1932; and descriptions of conflict in Havana, Cuba in 1933-1934.

A complete list of all updated and encoded legacy finding aids can be found here.

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